Monday, August 29, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

Keystone XL pipeline gets go ahead from US State more

OK, climate sceptics: here's the raw data you more

PepsiCo to launch global ethical-farming more

8 Of The Most Exciting Green Building Projects On The more

compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Monday, August 22, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

some fun
S&P Downgrades Planet Earth citing unbalanced carbon budget, reckless political debates and role of 'deniers' it now

an update Puma responds to Greenpeace Detox it now

and two longer pieces that are well worth your time

Jeremy Grantham - Resource Limitations 2: Separating the Dangerous from the Merely it now

Can CSR rating help improve labour practices? it now

compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Monday, August 15, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

What with Nick's and my summer holidays, Weekly News Update has not exactly been weekly of late. We'll be back to a more predictable schedule after Labour Day.

First up: A must watch video where Alex Steffan shows us that the solution to climate change is not about switching from dirty energy to clean energy but lies in 'reweaving the urban fabric'.

As Venture Capitalists bow out of cleantech, corporations step more

Oil sands expected to undo carbon more

Can Matt Damon bring clean water to Africa? more

Infographic: Locavorism vs. Globavorism - fodder to help you convince people to patronize the fantastic farmers markets out there at this time of year.

compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Sustainable Investment Professional Certificate

I am considering taking this certificate program, and the webinar I participated in last week was very helpful. Who are they looking for? The recipe they offered is 'one part capitalist, one part idealist. Stir well.'

The David O'Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise of the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, in cooperation with the Finance and Sustainability Initiative Montreal (FSI) has created the Sustainable Investment Certification Program. The program will offer basic sustainability training to investment and corporate professionals culminating in the Sustainable Investment Professional Certificate (SIPC). It is a self study program modeled on other professional certifications.

There are 6 modules, each with learning material and reading. That's expected to be about 80 hours of work. In addition, at the end of each module there is a case study type assignment, which should add about 20 -30 hours to the total time expected of you. The SIPC instructional approach is based on the fundamental values of practicality and applicability. The idea is not to test overall knowledge through traditional examination but rather to evaluate the student's ability to apply the knowledge learned from the modules in a practical setting. Research skills, critical thinking, creativity and decision making are the most important objectives throughout the evaluation.

At this point the material is in English only, although you may submit your assignments in English or French. They are working on having the program be fully bilingual by next year.

The modules are:

  • sustainability overview

  • governance

  • ethics

  • social sustainability

  • environmental sustainability

  • sustainable investing

The SIPC program was developed with the help of the Finance and Sustainability Initiative (FSI). The FSI is a Montreal based not for profit organization that encourages and promotes sustainabilty as a best practice in the financial sector.

The SIPC program's curriculum was developed by faculty at the John Molson School of Business and the program is guided by a Business Advisory Council consisting of practitioners in the fields of sustainability and finance. The program is led by Dr. Paul Shrivastava, currently the David O'Brien Distinguished Professor and Director of the David O"Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the Finance and Sustainability Initiative and as Senior Advisor on Sustainabilty at Bucknell University and the IIM-Shillong, India, and leads the International Chair for Arts and Sustainabile Enterprise at ICN Business School, Nancy France.

For more information on the SIPC, register for upcoming webinars on Thursday August 11th, Thursday August 18th and Thursday August 25th.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why Women are Investing Green

Thanks to Bob de Wit of GreenAngel Energy for giving us permission to post this. Read the GreenAngel Energy blog here.

Our recent GAE shareholder report shows that a significant portion of our new retail investors are women (or at least have traditionally female names!) which has led us to wonder what it is about cleantech investments that is driving this increased interest among women. We decided to do some primary research to validate our hypothesis that women are investing in companies that are focused on a smarter future. We looked to both mainstream media and published literature on the subject as well as reached out to a popular parenting blog for insights from its followers.

In their Handbook of Consumer Finance Research, Tahira K. Hira and C├Ązilia Loibl discuss investing behaviour of both men and women, highlighting some of the compelling differences between the genders. According to their research women tend to be more “buy and hold”-type investors, while men are more likely to move their money around and change the amount held in investment more frequently than women. Women also tend to be more risk averse and focused on the long-term strategy. If there is any correlation between this and why women are investing in GreenAngel it could be good news for our investors. Angel investment is usually thought to be risky, and GAE is an angel fund, so what is it that these women see that maybe others do not? Although it is perceived as risky, it is still a long-term investment, highly diversified, and in an industry that will set to see high growth and big demand for many years to come. Perhaps these factors cancel out the high risk perception for some, as the overall industry is a mere fraction of the size it is likely to become.

In the June 2011 Toronto Star article entitled: “Women shifting to online investing to control their financial destiny”, Suzanne Wintrob discusses the overall rise in female investors which could also speak to our observed increase in female shareholders. She reports that women prefer the freedom and ease of investing online because it allows them to research the companies they are interested in and take immediate action to invest in them. The article quotes Connie Stefankiewicz, President and CEO of InvestorLine, who believes that women are more interested in “building a portfolio, managing it and really taking a disciplined approach to doing that” which obviously became more feasible with online investing. Stefankiewicz believes that it is due to the availability of online investing that has driven women to invest more for themselves. Beyond online investing, the article also discusses issues around females not feeling like advisors take them seriously and their preference for the internet because they can learn how to invest without any judgment. So maybe more women are investing in GAE because of the ease of purchasing GAE stock online.

According to Steven J. Schueth in his article “Socially Responsible Investing in the United States”, he has observed “as women have filled the ranks of MBA programs and law schools, climbed corporate ladders, started their own companies, and assumed roles as fiduciaries, they have brought an affinity for socially responsible investing along with them”. This statement leads us to question whether if for some GAE is an avenue which can be used for socially responsible investing.

We were curious about our many hypotheses and wanted some real feedback from a group of women and parents. We engaged with “Multi-Testing Mommy”, a popular parenting blog to administer a survey. The site’s author (a parent herself) posted a survey for us and asked her followers to participate and help us see what it is about green technologies that is so attractive to the female investor. With the hopes of winning a $10 gift card to Tim Horton’s, we received 41 responses and derived some valuable insight.

Of our respondents, 75% indicated that they are totally in control or equal participants in the decision process for their family’s investments. It is clear that with the overwhelming majority of women saying they are at the very least somewhat involved in their family’s investment decision we can conclude that female-centric approaches to investing are occurring in the market that could speak to our observations. Our data also indicated that women are still risk averse and prefer to take either a little risk or none at all when choosing their investments. We also saw that women, while still focused on overall return, also consider the industry and practices of the companies they are investing in. When asked specifically what it is about green technologies that they find attractive the following themes were present in their responses: they are concerned with the future for the sake of their children; they are concerned about depleting resources; they see green as the future and they don’t want to be left behind; they are not only concerned with the environment but believe that cleantech will also provide them with returns; and it makes them feel better about themselves that their money is going to a good cause.

After doing this research we realized there are an infinite number of reasons why GAE is an attractive investment vehicle for women or any savvy investor. From the ease of purchasing online, the diversity and growth potential of the fund, to the ethical benefits of investing in a greentech fund, GAE can certainly be seen as great choice for forward thinking investors.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject and for you to provide us with your own hypothesis as to why we have seen a spike in female investors in the recent months. Join the conversation and leave us a comment below!

For a related story, check out The Top 12 Women of Cleantech.